One thing that occurs to me is that the folks who select the agrarian way of life have at least one thing in common –that is being the ability to sort through all kinds of research data and come up with some useable information that can be applied to everyday life. Maybe you noticed this, too?
Recently, we have been reading about phenols. Phenols are naturally-occurring compounds found in plants. These compounds protect the plant from bacterial and fungal infections, insect damage and UV radiation damage. Phenols have caught the attention of scientists and those in search of good health. Researchers have been studying the mechanism by which organic agriculture seems to boost phenol content and have recently released some results :
They hypothesize that the stress experienced by organic plants—having to fend off pests and work harder to scavenge up limited amounts of available nutrients in soil — resulted in oxidative stress and the accumulation of higher concentrations of soluble solids as sugars and other compounds contributing to nutritional quality such as vitamin C and phenolic compounds. In other words, when the plants suffer a bit, they generate more of these vital nutrients. The study result: total phenolic content was 139 percent higher in the organic tomatoes than in the conventional at the time of harvest; and vitamin C content measured in at 55 percent higher. There was a trade-off: the conventionally-grown plants using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers were significantly larger .
To further summarize, the research concluded that when selecting fruits and vegetables bigger is not better. It showed that the tomatoes grown organically had a smaller size than fruits from the conventional growing systems, but the organic fruits had substantially better nutritional quality. It also notes that the focus of conventional farms has been mainly on yield rather than on nutritional quality of fresh plant products. The research observations suggest that, at least for fruit and vegetable production, growers should not systematically – through use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers – try to reduce stress to maximize yield and size, but instead should accept a certain level of stress as that imposed by organic farming methods with the objective of improving product quality. Or in other words, organic farming practices should be used to grow better quality fruit.
Did you know that 100 years ago, all farming in this county used organic methods? Chemical farming methods were then introduced and promoted as a new and better way to grow our food. Since then, chemical farming has become known as “conventional farming”. So, what we have now is a broken system where farmers must pay certification fees to sell produce with an “organic” label while chemically-grown produce needs no mention of how it is grown. Doesn’t this seem backward? We think that chemical farms should have to pay a fee to use this label: “Even though our packaging shows a farmer standing in rolling countryside, this produce was grown on a large commercial farm using highly toxic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and GMO-seeds.”
And moreover, my experience is that organic or traditionally-grown produce also tend to pack more flavor. That leads me to wonder if there is a link between the human sense of taste and the content of these vital nutrients in the food. It would make sense that the design of the human body would include this ability to tell the difference in the goodness of foods. My belief is that we indeed have such ability. With that in mind, we’re getting as much food as we can from our garden and local farmer’s market for better taste and wholesomeness. Because, we know that most of supermarket food has a lot of added chemicals, and lacks in nutritional value and taste. And, any study that tries to tell us otherwise should be taken with a “grain of salt”.
 List of High Phenol Foods, Mar 31, 2011, by Kelley Reed
 Research Article: The Impact of Organic Farming on Quality of Tomatoes Is Associated to Increased Oxidative Stress during Fruit Development, published on February 20, 2013 by PLOS (Public Library of Science)